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Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:55 AM
This is a forum to update Twins minor league signings (and can be where we post Twins minor league free agents that signed elsewhere)....
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Montreal Rays?

Other Baseball Today, 09:48 AM
http://www.startribu...real/511580082/ This piece with an AP byline was posted on the Strib website today. Maybe it's not significant, bu...
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Astros Being Investigated for Using Tech to Steal Pitchin...

Other Baseball Today, 09:45 AM
I can no longer say I want the Twins to emulate the Astros. Bush league maneuver to use cameras in order to steal signs.
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Reports: Romero to Miss Most or All of Spring Training

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:38 AM
Disappointing news today via LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune: The Twins are anticipating that Fernando Romero will miss most...
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Pensacola Blue Wahoos: Photo-A-Day

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:48 AM
Hey all,   Pensacola Blue Wahoos here, the Double-A affiliate of your Minnesota Twins.   We've enjoyed partnering with TwinsDai...
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Twins Wins in Pitching Development Paved Way for Trading Graterol for Maeda

Trading Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda didn't become a possibility overnight. It took years of methodical, successful pitching development and investment. The Twins nailed it, and need to keep it up.
Image courtesy of © Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
As pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, the biggest Twins storyline is still the trade that landed them Kenta Maeda in exchange for Brusdar Graterol. That move put the finishing touches on their offseason, and whether you like the deal or not, it’s clearly solidified the team’s starting rotation for 2020 in a very positive way. Had it not been for the team’s overall advancements and successes in the development of pitchers over the last two years, however, the trade would have been impossible to pull off.

Graterol is, himself, one success story of the team’s pitching development infrastructure. Many hard-throwing teenagers undergo Tommy John surgery shortly after turning pro; very few have as quick and smooth a path to the big leagues as Graterol has had. The team managed his workloads and helped him hone his mechanics to keep him healthy, and while the results were mixed on that front, every bit of uninterrupted competitive action helped, and Graterol’s command and feel for the slider came along much faster than is typical of pitchers whose careers begin the way his did. By this offseason, the team had come to the realization that Graterol belonged in the bullpen, but his upside there is considerable. His development has been a victory for the organization.

Without other, even greater successes, though, that win wouldn’t have positioned the team to trade him for Maeda. In 2018, the team helped Taylor Rogers build a slider, and his career took off. Where they’d had little more than a matchup lefty, they now have one of the league’s best relievers, capable of stretching out beyond a single inning of work and dominant against both left-handed and right-handed batters. They also helped both Tyler Duffey and Trevor May re-engineer their mechanics, reshape their breaking stuff, and recalibrate their pitch mixes, leading to their twin 2019 breakouts. That made for a beefed-up back end of the bullpen, one that needed little help even from an electric arm like Graterol’s.

Those achievements came at the big-league level, which made them highly visible, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Cody Stashak and Zack Littell contributed impressively in 2019, thanks largely to development and direction they undertook in the minor leagues. Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnak seemed unlikely to ever reach the major leagues as recently as 2018, but now, both look like credible swingmen who can eat innings when the team’s depth is tested and provide high-quality short relief work when they’re rolling. The club salvaged the development of Lewis Thorpe, after Thorpe’s long saga of elbow trouble forced him to evolve a lot in a short time, and now believe he’s a solid backend starter. Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, and Blayne Enlow all offer varying degrees of promise and a surprising amount of polish, given their profiles.

Populating the back end of their rotation, for now, are low-risk, low-profile additions Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Those gambles come on the heels of wildly successful similar investments in Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. The team has demonstrated an ability to allow its pitchers to find their own paths to success, without feeling unable to step in when they can offer a new insight or tool to a particular hurler. As a result, they’re more confident in their ability to go bargain-hunting, and there’s a stronger foundation for that confidence.

All of these wins set the stage for trading away Graterol. High-octane, high-profile pitching prospects are fun, but they’re a risky luxury. Because the Twins accrued such depth in their rotation, they could afford to view Graterol strictly as a reliever. Because they so successfully augmented the development of their key relievers, they could afford to view Graterol as a non-essential reliever. Because they had so little urgent need for him, and so much confidence in their processes and their number of options, they could afford to trade Graterol for Maeda.

In the big leagues, every small victory of player development has a positive knock-on effect. Teams who commit to being good at the still-difficult science of player development, and who then pounce on any opportunity to capture and maximize those aftereffects when they have success, begin to enjoy the kind of persistent advantage that keeps windows open longer and builds dynasties. For every pitcher to whom the Twins successfully add a new pitch, or for whom they find some hidden mechanical key, they take another step toward winning a whole bunch of AL Central titles in a row.

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20 Comments

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howieramone2
Feb 12 2020 08:10 PM
Great article!

Awesome article.I have nothing to add or critique.Well done.

Awesome article. Lots of good homegrown pitching talent made this trade possible. Very well done

Question: Is there any hope left for the late "great prospect" Romero? Was he just not good enough? Or did the Twins' coaching staff not do what they needed to do to allow him to develop? Or is there still hope that he could be refined into something useful?

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Matthew Trueblood
Feb 12 2020 10:15 PM

 

Question: Is there any hope left for the late "great prospect" Romero? Was he just not good enough? Or did the Twins' coaching staff not do what they needed to do to allow him to develop? Or is there still hope that he could be refined into something useful?

 

I think there's something there, yet, but the team got an extra option year on him, and that puts him at a disadvantage in terms of getting consistent run in the bullpen at the big-league level. Still, yeah, it's still a big arm, it's a newly motivated person, and if the slider plays up in relief the way we thought it would going into last year, he could end up being this year's Littell.

    • Otwins, DocBauer, Wizard11 and 2 others like this

If the development is sooooo good, WHERE IS OUR ACE? All this hype is very premature if you ask me. Which you didn't. The one pitcher with a ceiling that is more than back of the rotation that was actually ready to help us and be on the 26 man roster out of ST was traded for a pitcher that is also being hyped, that the Dodgers were more than happy to move (I mean, it's not like we got Buehler or Urias or Dustin May). Seriously. We are talking Maeda! I hope it pans out. Just as I hope that May and Duffey can actually sustain. Especially Duffey, with just one half season under his belt in which the boards weren't calling for his head. When we have 3 pitchers from the farm that are actually battling for the top spot in the rotation, I will jump right on board. 

 

One thing that became obvious as the trade finally became official, is that the FO was really wanting to dump Graterol, for what ever reason that seems to be a secret. And with the Dodgers, they were even willing to add the second highest draft pick the Twins had left, and another basically MLB ready prospect.

The lack of pitcher development is why most of the 2010's were major losing seasons.
    • Danchat and woolywoolhouse like this
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howieramone2
Feb 13 2020 06:39 AM
Every mid-market team except yours, needs to rebuild at some point in time. Due to our past successes, being continuously in poor draft position caught up with us.

I think Romero is going t have a breakout year.He's had the stuff in the past.Clearly last year was not a good year for him.However, there were no indications of physical problems. It seems to either be an anomaly, mechanics or a loss of confidence.Possibly, a combination of these.

 

We all know the guys who make up the bullpen at the start f the year are not going to be the guys who make up the bullpen at the end of the year.I look fr Romero to be one of the guys depended on heavily at the end of the year.His stuff plays well in the bullpen and I feel last year was the year making that adjustment.Just my feelings. 

Every mid-market team except yours, needs to rebuild at some point in time. Due to our past successes, being continuously in poor draft position caught up with us.

I'm still trying to figure out how the Cardinals since 2000 have had only one losing season since 2000 and that season they were only 1 out on September 7 that 2007 season.

They've only had 2 Gold Glove starting catchers since 2000. Then every couple years 3 or 4 starting pitchers start many games that didn't start for the team a couple of years earlier. Not too many bad contracts being lucky they didn't get Heyward, Pujols, David Price and Stanton's contracts. Missed out on Scherzer who is from here.

Since the MVP3 days are over they develop, acquire, and trade off lots of starting pitchers. Out there now in trades is Marco Gonzales, Zach Gallen and Sandy Alcantra and a recovered after 3 seasons off Lance Lynn.

They must have some internal metrics that they use. College pitchers arms are more developed than high school graduates.
    • Doctor Gast likes this
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Doctor Gast
Feb 13 2020 09:51 AM

 

I'm still trying to figure out how the Cardinals since 2000 have had only one losing season since 2000 and that season they were only 1 out on September 7 that 2007 season.

They've only had 2 Gold Glove starting catchers since 2000. Then every couple years 3 or 4 starting pitchers start many games that didn't start for the team a couple of years earlier. Not too many bad contracts being lucky they didn't get Heyward, Pujols, David Price and Stanton's contracts. Missed out on Scherzer who is from here.

Since the MVP3 days are over they develop, acquire, and trade off lots of starting pitchers. Out there now in trades is Marco Gonzales, Zach Gallen and Sandy Alcantra and a recovered after 3 seasons off Lance Lynn.

They must have some internal metrics that they use. College pitchers arms are more developed than high school graduates.

Cleveland too is a low market team, I believe I saw their payroll is under $100,000 around $90,000 I think but yet they always seems to compete. I believe it`s because they focus on pitching & defense. Like I said before they have an ace factory which always cranks them out regularly.

 I believe Romero needs to get his confidence back, hopefully this year he`ll find it & get the chance to prove himself. We have some hope w/ a great stock of pitching prospects for a bright future. MN has very good coaches to develop pitchers so far they have done wonders. Maeda is a good pitcher but I wish people would stop drinking LA & MN FO Kool-Aid. LA has a great pitching organization they needsomeone like Maeda to be a great SP/RP to help anchor a lacking BP & fill in as SP when needed. So why were they so determined to trade him for "damage goods" LA had Graterol records & sure he was he was extentively scouted? It`s because they could see 21 yrs.old Graterol as an impact pitcher for many years to come on the cheap instead a 32 yrs. old. Why didn`t MN wisely offer a positional player instead which wouldn`t have hurt? It`s because they started to drink their own Kool-Aid.

 I wish the Twins rotation well & they should w/ better line up, defense, BP to support them & a deader ball

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howieramone2
Feb 13 2020 10:00 AM
They didn't wisely offer a position player because that's not what their trade partner wanted.
    • Tomj14 likes this

 

Question: Is there any hope left for the late "great prospect" Romero? Was he just not good enough? Or did the Twins' coaching staff not do what they needed to do to allow him to develop? Or is there still hope that he could be refined into something useful?

 

I don't think he was every considered a "great prospect" outside of MN.

Not sure how you come up with this take. IMO, a more accurate take would be "Poor development of starters necessitates Graterol trade".

 

If we're talking about the current administration...and we're talking development (not draft/evaluation), particularly of starting pitchers...then this FO has had their hand in plenty of failures. Stewart, Gonsalves, Romero...even Graterol. Meanwhile, the others that have made it to the majors are a mix of 'we'll see' and low ceilings. For instance, Wes Johnson was widely quoted regarding his plans to get more velo out of the intriguing prospect that was Stephen Gonsalves. A year later Gonsalves is released. This staff didn't 'develop' much of anything out of the top starting prospects they inherited. Stewart, also nothing, Romero seems to have gone backwards, and Graterol may have been a lost cause, but they ended up trading him for far less than anyone would have imagined 12 months ago.

 

If any of these guys...including guys like Thorpe, were looking like reliable major league starters by 2020, the Twins could have kept Graterol in the bullpen to make the overall pitching staff that much stronger.

 

There's optimism that real success is right around the corner with Duran, Balazovic, and/or one of the currently-rostered young arms taking a big step. But up to this point?...some big disappointments...mixed with a few small wins with low ceiling guys.

 

 

    • h2oface likes this

The proof is in the pudding named Fernando Romero.

Boy, hard to say the Twins 'nailed it' as far a pitching development is concerned.Other than Berrios, our entire projected starting pitchers in 2020 are coming from other team's systems. We again have the "hope" of our upcoming prospects doing well. I am optomistic as well......but on February, 13th of EVERY year......I am optomistic!

    • h2oface likes this

 

They didn't wisely offer a position player because that's not what their trade partner wanted.

 

LA didn't even want Graterol when it all started! He was going to Boston. It seems pretty clear that Graterol was the Twins choice to trade. From the video on MLB.com that Falvey did, it was Falvey that really wanted Maeda, and wanted to trade Graterol. And LA wanted to dump Maeda, and was able to suck more out from the Twins than Boston, because Falvey really wanted Maeda. 

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howieramone2
Feb 13 2020 05:43 PM
Falvey let the Dodgers know at the Winter Meetings we had some interest in Maeda. Boston wanted Graterol and advised the Dodgers of this. Yada, Yada, Yada. We have the solid #3 we need and 10M in the bank to spend w/o our benevolent owners approval. Time to step off the ledge.

 

If the development is sooooo good, WHERE IS OUR ACE?

 

was traded for a pitcher that is also being hyped, that the Dodgers were more than happy to move 

 

they were even willing to add the second highest draft pick the Twins had left, and another basically MLB ready prospect.

 

How many "ace's" are there? Either it's very rare to get one or the Twins do have one they've developed in Berrios

 

You could easily say the exact same thing in reverse - "the Twins were more than happy to move"

 

We traded our 3rd highest pick as we retain our regular 2nd round selection. On top of that, Luke Raley is no great prospect. He's already 25 and most had him ranked around our 20th best prospect who had many players ahead of him who were better. And it frees up a spot on the 40 man.

    • Danchat and joemama like this

Matt, this was a fantastic article!!

 

I’ve gotten accustomed to the good old one-point article where the opening and closing were nearly the same statements, substantiated by the aforementioned one point.

 

But you packed and incredible amount of references and conclusions into your short posting, made a solid conclusion that was independent from the opening supposition, and left me wanting more.

 

Excellent writing that should serve as a best-practice for the rest of the site!

    • DocBauer likes this